Omnibus FY19 Appropriations To Get Final Votes Today, Tomorrow

February 14, 2019 – 6:00 a.m.

At nine minutes to midnight last night, an omnibus appropriations measure containing $325 billion in discretionary appropriations to cover the last seven of the regular fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills was introduced in the House. The package is scheduled to receive a vote in the House this evening (the House is not holding votes during the day so members can attend the funeral for Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) down in North Carolina) and is scheduled to get a vote tomorrow in the Senate.

If all goes according to plan, President Trump will sign the bill into law before midnight Friday night and avert any more lapse-of-appropriations government shutdowns for the remainder of fiscal year 2019. But Trump has yet to make a formal, public announcement that he will sign the legislation (his staff kept saying that he would wait to see the final text before declaring his intentions).

(Sometime this summer, if the debt ceiling isn’t increased, parts of the government may have to shut down because the Treasury will literally run out of money, but that kind of shutdown works differently than a lapse-of-appropriations shutdown.)

The measure was filed as a House-Senate conference report to accompany H.J. Res. 31, which was a “shell” resolution passed by both chambers for this purposes. The legislative text of the conference report is here and the joint explanatory statement of managers is here. All Senate conferees from both parties, and all House conferees from both parties except Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), signed the conference report.

What’s in. Here is what is in the final agreement:

  • Division A – Homeland Security Appropriations Act
  • Division B – Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Appropriations Act
  • Division C – Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act
  • Division D – Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act
  • Division E – Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act
  • Division F – State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act
  • Division G – Transportation and HUD Appropriations Act
  • Division H – Extensions, Technical Corrections and Other Matters

We will have a writeup of the transportation-related provisions of the Homeland Security bill, which have not been seen yet in this budget cycle, later today. The Transportation-HUD provision of the bill appears identical to the version that the House passed in a different appropriations measure on January 23 as H.R. 648. And that was almost entirely based on deals struck during negotiations in September 2018 and kept under wraps until last month. Our writeup of the Transportation-HUD portions of that legislation is here.

What’s out. The package filed last night is more notable for what’s not in in it.

Appropriations staff refer to the items at the end of an omnibus appropriations package, after the last of the actual appropriations measures, as the “ash and trash” section. And the package filed last night is remarkable for how small the “ash and trash” of Division H is – just six pages. There are extensions of five immigration-related legal provisions, technical corrections to recently enacted education and defense authorization laws, a $30 million transfer from the House of Representatives building fund, and a PAYGO waiver for the whole thing. That’s it. Compare that to the ash and trash in last year’s omnibus which had ten extra divisions of the bill after the appropriations ended.

Here are items that were, at one point, under discussion for inclusion in the omnibus but are not included in the version filed last night:

  • Additional targeted emergency appropriations for disaster assistance. (The Homeland bill does contain a $12 billion re-up of the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, but the conference report contains none of the targeted emergency appropriations for hurricane, flood, typhoon, earthquake and wildfire relief contained in H.R. 268 as passed by the House last month.) Those will have to wait on future Congressional action.
  • Extensions of tax provisions that expired on January 1, 2018, sought by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee.
  • A new budget deal increasing the spending caps on discretionary appropriations for fiscal year 2020, which will be necessary before the FY20 appropriations process can get very far.
  • A provision sought by Senate Appropriations chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) to make future appropriations from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund exempt from budget spending caps (up to the actual levels of the previous year’s trust fund tax receipts and interest). This provision, backed by port interests and similar to a proposal by House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) from last year, was included in Shelby’s version of an omnibus appropriations bill proposed last month (see our writeup here).
  • A provision providing back pay for federal contractors that went without pay during the government shutdown, which apparently has never been provided following previous shutdowns, either.
  • An extension of the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Various TANF and Medicaid extensions that were in the end of H.R. 648.
  • The intelligence community reauthorization act.
  • A provision clearing the statutory PAYGO budget scorecard so as to avert a minor round of budget sequestration ($1 billion or so spread across all mandatory, non-exempt programs) next year.

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